WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? BATAAN ESCAPADE!
WHERE IS BATAAN LOCATED?
Bataan is a province in the Philippines located in the Central Luzon region,. Occupying the entire Bataan Peninsula on Luzon, Bataan is bordered by the provinces of Zambales and Pampanga to the north and faces the South China Sea to the west, Subic Bay to the north-west, and encloses Manila Bay to the east. Despite its proximity to Manila, the province isn’t commercialized or as “touristy” as some other popular destinations, making it a good choice for weekend warriors who want to get away from the crowds. It holds many interesting tourist spots. The province has plenty of historical landmarks to visit including monuments, markers, old houses, shrines and old churches since it played an important role in the history of the country (Battle of Bataan). For relaxation, outdoor activities and sightseeing destinations, it has a lot to offer such as nature parks, vast beaches and mountains.
WHERE TO GO IN BATAAN?
Shrine of Valor at Mt. Samat or Dambana ng Kagitingan
Bataan’s major icon is the Shrine of Valor, a 92-meter high concrete cross on top of Mt. Samat in Pilar town, 555 meters above sea level. It is a tribute to the fallen Filipino and American soldiers who fought gallantly in the World War II known as the Battle of Bataan. The cross is the country’s national memorial for the defenders of Bataan and site of the annual Araw ng Kagitingan Rites. Below the cross is a shrine, colonnade with an altar, esplanade and museum. An open area in the Colonnade provides a panoramic view of Bataan but the viewing deck at the top of the cross gives even more interesting sights. The viewing deck that stretches in both arms of the cross can be reached through an elevator at its base. Within Mt. Samat complex, there’s a Treetop Adventure, ATVs for rent and a zipline that ends in Dunsulan Falls.
Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar
One of those places you usually discover via social media. There were a lot of interesting facts and stories if people care enough to listen. It is one of the best tourist spots in Bataan, an outstanding heritage resort perched by the sea. The resort features a very impressive collection of 27 heritage houses all over the Philippines from the Spanish-colonial period. These heritage houses (casas in Spanish) were dismantled, transported and reconstructed brick by brick, plank by plank in this 400-hectare property. Living in one of these noble-class heritage houses over the night comes with a golden price tag. Day tours are also available led by expert tour guides.
Pawikan Conservation Center
It is a joint effort by the Bataan government, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and UNESCO initiated in 1999. The Bantay Pawikan men and volunteers from the local community patrol the beaches at night to guard eggs laid by marine turtles in the beach. They are then carefully transported to the Conservation Center until they are hatched before they are released back to the sea. It is maintained by the Bantay Pawikan Inc., a group of former poachers now dedicated to preserving the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle species that lay their eggs in the beaches of Morong, Bataan.
Here, you can learn more about these beautiful and mysterious sea turtles who are original world travelers. They explore unknown depths and distances in the seas, only to return to the beach where they were hatched to lay more eggs during the cold months of the year. As a visitor, you may release baby sea turtles back into the sea. Purchases of t-shirts and pawikan toys help fund the Center as well.
Mariveles’ Five Fingers have recently gone viral on social media, and has even sparked interest among media outlets, hailing it as the next adventure destination. There is good reason to explore the Five Fingers, its proximity to Manila being one of them. In fact, you can even clearly see Manila Bay from the coast of Mariveles! While there are no ferry services as of the moment, there are talks of reviving the ferry shuttling to and from Manila Bay, which would only last about 30 to 45 minutes. So, what exactly can you do at the Five Fingers? Here are just some of the land and water adventures we took on: Island Hopping, Snorkeling, Cliff Diving, Rock Climbing, Sightseeing and Nature Photography
Wetland and Nature Park
Birdwatching is the big draw at this eco-tourism site. The lush mangroves are a great habitat for all kinds of birds. If you’re there at the right time, you can see flocks of them almost covering the sky. Early morning or late afternoon is the best time to catch sightings of all the birds. That being said, you don’t have to be a devoted birdwatcher to enjoy the sheer natural beauty of this destination. The sunset here is particularly stunning. The silhouettes of birds in flight make the scene especially dramatic. It’s a great sight to cap off your weekend adventure. Entrance fee is PHP20 per person.
WHERE TO EAT IN BATAAN?
Bataan is located on a peninsula, which means that it is a great location for finding seafood as well as food that you would find in a more inland area.
This is a great Japanese Inspired restraint in Bataan. It has not been around for a long time, but it serves local favorites like a Kani and Tobiko Salad that is created from crab meat and fish roe. They also serve Spicy Tuna Maki, which is a classic take on sushi that is created from local fish. It is located on the 3rd floor of the Plaza Hotel in Balanga City. A place where you can enjoy the best fresh Japanese cuisine at any time. Café Kyoto is the only Japanese restaurant in Bataan, by the genius and passionate Chef Honda . This restaurant opened at the same time as the hotel in 2014.
This is a restaurant that serves gourmet dishes as well as gelato. If you happen to stop in for dinner, then the eight-hour roast beef dish is a must-try that simply melts in your mouth. Don’t forget that this is a gelato place, so they have plenty of interesting and unique flavors for you to sample.
This is more of an authentic Bataan restaurant. Bulalo is a local favorite that you must try here as well as Bangus with salted egg. It is a place that offers a lot of down home cooking in a friendly environment. If you are really in the mood for some good Filipino food, then these two dishes go perfectly together.
LOLENG’S HU TIEU-AN
This is a roadside food option that serves some great Vietnamese options that the locals love. If you stop by this eatery, try out the Hu Tieu Special, which is a sweet, spicy, and sweet pho-like soup. Banh Mi is also a must when you hit up this little eatery during your travels.
“A trip to Bataan will renew your senses and let you marvel at some of the country’s best spots. Best of all, this can be done over the weekend.”